FNF Coaches Talk — Professor Mike Leach, Aaron Rodgers Studies His Playbook, a Helmet Foam to Reduce Concussions

FNF Coaches Talk

It’s Wednesday, Coaches! You’re halfway home on this four-day work week. Let’s get right to the stories.

1. Professor Mike Leach Grades His Washington State Students’ Play Design Skills (SI.com)

Many of you may have heard that Washington State football coach Mike Leach asked the university if he could teach a class with his friend, the former state Sen. Michael Baumgartner. They called the course “Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies.”

This spring, the university green lit the class, and Leach and Baumgartner asked interested students to submit an application, consisting of two essay questions:

1. Can the British strategy for the Malaya Insurgency be used today?
2. Is the Wishbone a viable offense for the NFL? Why or why not?

Throughout the semester, Leach gave them a crash course on his famous Air Raid offense. He explained how, at its most basic level, the Air Raid is predicated on creating space and then devising ways to attack that space. Using game tape as a visual aid, he showed the students how he layered routes, moved players before the snap and tried putting the defense in compromising positions in order to achieve those ends. At the very least, the students left with a better understanding of what’s happening when they watch the Cougars play.

As part of the students’ final project, Leach asked them to design three plays, under the premise that he might use one of them in Washington State’s game next season against Houston. “They were really quite impressive plays,” Leach says. “[There was] some dimension to them.” He also thought, intentionally or not, the students combined both aspects of the class in designing their plays. “There was an inclination toward trick plays,” Leach says. “We spent a good amount of time talking about insurgency and counterinsurgency, and probably the most memorable stories [Baumgartner told] were those that offered some level of deception, so the plays also have a little bit of sleight-of-hand and deception involved.”

Check out the story to see which three plays stood out.

If you could teach a class sharing your football knowledge, what would be the title of the course?

2. With more time on his iPad playbook — and less time on the links — Aaron Rodgers gets in sync with Matt LaFleur’s offense (Wisconsin State Journal)

Coaches — Here’s a good story to share with your quarterback this offseason. You want to be great? You have to stay ahead of the rest of the team when it comes to learning the playbook.

After 13 years in former coach Mike McCarthy’s system, Aaron Rodgers is excited about the new concepts and innovations that new head coach Matt LaFleur brings with his version of the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan scheme.

“It’s been a fun challenge to study more in the offseason. Most of the time, I’m checking the tee sheet to see what my tee time is in the afternoon,” Rodgers said with a chuckle following the first open organized team activity practice of the offseason earlier this week. “But now I’m spending time watching my iPad, studying my iPad at night, studying my notes and trying to come in here prepared every day.”

Rodgers acknowledged that he’s nowhere close to being as well-versed in the system as he wants or needs to be. At the same time, as the leader of the offensive pack, he knows he has to pick it up faster than the rest of his teammates on that side of the ball because his cohorts look to him and he directs what happens on the field.

“It’s important that I can lead from an aptitude standpoint with the offense — even if I still don’t understand the intricacies of certain reads or concepts,” Rodgers explained. “Being able to get guys lined up in the right spot is an important part of my job.
“I’d like to think I might be a half-step ahead of them with my ability to recall things and learn things quickly, but I can’t say I’m an expert of this offense at this point. It’s going to be a work in progress throughout the OTAs and minicamp.”

Coaches — How do you motivate your quarterback to lead by example through his preparation and work ethic?

3. FSU Professor’s Brand New Invention Could Save Football (FanBuzz)

Thanks to Changchun “Chad” Zeng, an associate professor and researcher at Florida State University, football at all levels could change forever thanks to a brand new technology he developed.

Zeng invented something called auxetic foam. Basically, as the foam absorbs the hit from a high-speed impact, it becomes denser and actually hardens, which would drastically change how traditional football helmets were designed.

The company submitted Zeng’s invention to the NFL’s Play Smart. Play Safe. HeadHealthTECH Challenge VI where it was heralded for its game-changing design.

The NFL awarded Auxadyne an $86,688 grant to test Zeng’s foam in different capacities to potentially become the future of NFL players’ helmets.

“The talented team at Auxadyne is humbled and excited for the opportunity to explore the use of XPF in football helmets. We are confident that this generous award from HHTC VI will enable us to accomplish our company’s mission of providing superior prevention, protection and performance to football athletes at all levels.”
— Joe Condon, President and Founder of Auxadyne

What adjustments have you made in the last five years to decrease the risk of concussions?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!